Family Law Resolutions During Covid-19 Pandemic

Covid-19 and family law

A little empathy goes a long way during difficult times

COVID-19 has rapidly changed our daily routines and interactions and has had an incredible impact on our socialization and family dynamics. As the pandemic continues to change our daily lives we are forced to come up with new solutions to our problems and establish a new normal within our family lives. It is important to know how COVID-19 is impacting the legal system and what your options are for resolving family law matters.

Resolving Family Law Matters During COVID-19

If parenting disputes arise during COVID-19, it's still possible to achieve meaningful access to justice. Even with the court closures, there are many avenues to resolving parenting disputes such as mediation, mediation / arbitration, parenting coordination and settlement meetings. The courts are also hearing matters on an emergency basis so if you do require court assistance, it is still possible to have your matter heard if it is on an urgent basis. Our lawyers can help you prepare pleadings for an emergency application and provide legal advice on how you can proceed. While it is ultimately up to the court to determine if your matter is deemed an emergency we can give our professional option on how you should proceed and a cost-benefit analysis for your next steps.

Parenting During COVID-19

If you and the other party have a signed an enforceable Agreement or court order, you are still required to abide by the provisions and spirit of these agreements. For example, if you have a shared parenting regime, this should still be followed. It is a very bad idea to use COVID-19 as an excuse to withhold parenting time or try to change the status quo. The court will not look favorably on those who choose to do so. We understand that it can be frightening to have shared parenting during a pandemic but we recommend voicing concerns with the other parent and ensuring that the best interest of the children is considered. You may want to consider Skype or Zoom to facilitate parenting time if that is the only option. If you or the other party must self-isolate for work, we can assist in establishing parenting plans that meet both parties needs. If you do have serious concerns about the well-being of your children and the other party is intentionally putting them at immediate risk – contact the authorities.

What About Support Payments

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the economy with many individuals being laid off or working reduced hours. This can be a scary situation, especially if you are no longer able to provide for your family. If you need to discuss altering child or spousal support, you should begin by raising these issues with a lawyer. A lawyer can help you determine the appropriate amount of support and the duration for which it should be paid. They can also help re-negotiate support agreements, if necessary.

As much as possible, we recommend being courteous and flexible with your ex-partner. The world is a very different place today than it was earlier this year and we are all adapting to change. If you need legal advice, connect with us today to set up an initial consultation.

Legal Test For Mobility Applications In Alberta

mobility

The best interest of the child is the most important factor

Mobility is the right of a parent with custody to relocate with their child/ children. This relocation can be to a new city, new province or new country and can be for a number of reasons such as a new job or to be closer to family / support systems. The parent who does not have custody will have to agree to this relation. As such, if the non-custodial party does not agree to the move, the parent who is moving will need to bring a mobility application or attend mediation / arbitration.

Mobility Test

In order to be successful in a application there is a two step test that will apply: (1) you will need to establish that there has been a material change in circumstance to you or the Children; and, (2) that the move and the change in the parenting arrangement is in the best interests of the Children.  The Court or Arbitrator will only go on to the second part of the test if a material change is established.

Best Interest of the Children

It is important to note that there is no one test applied when the Court is considering the best interests of the Children. The safety, wellness, connection to the community, relationship with each parent, relationship to siblings and their voice and other relevant factors are all factors that a Court may take into consideration. It is important to note that:

How to Prepare for a Mobility Application  

If you are wishing to pursue a Mobility Application, it would be very beneficial for your legal counsel to understand (a) what your concerns are with the children staying in their current situation; (b) why you believe the Children moving to a new location is in their best interest and (c) the impact on siblings if they were to be broken up. As well, it is a good idea to start making a list of the following:

  1. Describe parenting roles and relationship with each parent.
  2. Parenting time and roles: During marriage, how these changed at separation and since.
  3. Describe your living situation and why you think the Children living with you is better for you and for the Children:
  4. Views of the children;
  5. Describe options for parenting plan/maximizing time with the other parent; and
  6. Describe the concerns with the situation if the Children were to stay in their current situation.

If you are considering relocating with your children, connect with us today to learn more.

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